Sometimes relationships can seem like a lot of work until you sit back and realize just how much you’ve been given. A thriving, healthy relationship requires some give and take, and is absolutely within your reach if you and your partner are willing to do a bit of work. If you and your partner are right for each other, all the work will definitely be worth it in the long run.
Part 1 of 2: Things You Must Do Independently
1. Take responsibility for your own happiness. Save yourself several hours of arguing by remembering this one rule: it’s not up to anyone else to make you happy. In a relationship your partner will try to please you and make you happy but in the end you are responsible for your happiness.
2. Make good on your words. Follow through on your promises. When you say you’re going to do something, do it. Don’t say that you’ll cook dinner, or get a birthday present, and then blow it off or simply forget about it. What this does is systematically destroy trust. And relationships need trust in order to thrive.
3.Admit your mistakes. If you know you’ve done something to hurt your partner, intentionally or not, own up to it. Humble yourself and apologize sincerely, without making excuses or justifications like “I’m sorry you made me angry.”
- Commit to changing your behavior. If you notice yourself apologizing for the same mistake over and over, step it up a level. Tell your partner that you recognize this mistake keeps happening, and you want to train yourself to stop. Request help and ask for him or her to gently point it out to you when you’re making this mistake again.
4. Be realistic. Every relationship has disagreements and days when staying isn’t the easiest choice. But what makes a relationship healthy is choosing to resolve those problems and push through the hard days, instead of just letting issues and resentment fester.
- Review your expectations. Do you see your partner as a person, with both winning qualities and flaws, or as someone you expect to be perfect? If your expectations are so astronomical that no one could live up to them 100% of the time, you’re setting up your relationship for failure.
- Accept that conflict happens. If you expect to be in a long-term relationship, you’re bound to have the occasional disagreement. Remember that one argument isn’t the end of everything, and there’s no person on earth that you’d agree with all the time.
- Always ask yourself whether you’re better off in the relationship than out of it. If you don’t think you’re better off in the relationship, then you probably should have a serious discussion with your partner. In a loving relationship, this question almost always gets a simple “Yes.”
5. Listen to your partner. Sometimes, all your partner wants is for you to lend an ear and be sympathetic about one of their problems. Other times, your partner wants you to actively give them advice. Know which one your partner is looking for, and try to give them what they want. Being a good listener is all about paying attention to what they’re saying and not blowing it off.
- Listening to your partner will enhance your relationship in many ways. It will help you resolve differences without arguing; let you explore each other’s personality more deeply; and even help you pick out an awesome Christmas present. There are no downsides to listening.
6. Show your affection in whatever way you can. There’s a difference between knowing that you’re loved and feeling that you’re loved. Sometimes, we bank on the fact that our partners should know that we love them even when we don’t show it. Don’t rely on this too much. The best relationships use affection to show love.
- Do something for your partner that you know s/he will truly appreciate. Whether it means getting up early to mow the lawn, taking the kids to karate, or baking that nutella shortcake, it’s often the little favors that say the most.
- Don’t be afraid to show physical affection every once in a while. Loving relationships feed off of the little kisses, hugs, and back-rubs that are mainstays of affection.
- Do the unexpected. It’s one thing to kiss your partner after you come home from work; it’s another thing to kiss your wife while you’re skydiving, falling 10,000 feet from a plane. It’s the thought that counts, so put a little effort into it for huge returns.
7. Be loyal. Make sure he/she knows that you will always be there for him/her. Put him/her first in your life as much as you possibly can. Not that you have to only see him/her ever, or never talk to anyone else, but he/she should know that he/she can always count on you if he/she needs something. Also, expect the same loyalty from him/her. You deserve to feel prized in the relationship just as much as him/her.
8. Do not ever hide anything from him/her. Especially your feelings about him/her and your relationship – whether good or bad! This way you will be able to overcome all the difficulties and challenges together. If something bad happened in your past that still affects you in the present, he/she needs to know about it. Note: you should be able to discuss your sexual history. It is an obligation before you decide to be sexually involved with your partner. But you should make them feel safe and not judgmental and you should expect the same from your partner.
9. Give him/her some space. Everyone needs their own privacy and some freedom, so don’t constantly watch everything he/she does. Everyone hates to be watched, stifled and controlled.
- Do not ever spy on him/her (reading his/her phone, stalking him/her on social networks, following him/her around). If he/she is cheating on you, you will find out. These things cannot be kept secret for very long. But if you spy on him/her and he/she is innocent, you will lose his trust and respect forever.
10. Express your feelings towards him/her. Always remind him/her of how much they mean to you, and what they represent to you. Women are not the only ones who need expressions of love and care, men need that too.
If you have a problem, you need to let him/her know – preferably in a clear and calm manner without any yelling. If he says `Are you OK?` and you answer yes, do not expect him to understand that you really meant no. Be honest and open.
- Let him/her know it is safe to open up to you about what he is feeling. Reward his/her trust in you by sympathizing with him/her and, but you don`t need to say much, just listen.
- Don’t be afraid to lose him/her or spend every minute fearing the huge pain that that might cause you. Enjoy each wonderful moment as it happens, and realize that there will never be another one just like it.
- Never be pathetic and needy just to make him/her pay attention to you and give you sympathy.
- A solid relationship should be based on mutual respect; if you are constantly trying to pull him/her down with you, this means you don`t respect him /her enough to want him/her to be happy. If you are depressed, see a doctor – don`t pull some guy/girl into your problems.
11. Encourage him/her. So that he/she can be more successful at work or study. That will make him/her realise how much you care about his/her future and wish that he/she’d become one of the best. It will also make his/her feeling towards you grow even stronger, and he/she will believe that you’re ready to support him/her on anything he/she does.
Part 2 of 2: Things That You Must Do Together
1. Revive date-night. Going on dates, even if you’ve been in a relationship for years, is still important. In fact, it’s especially important for couples who have been together long enough to grow comfortable. Try to go on a date at least once every month. Some couples make it a priority to go on one date every week.
- If you’re having trouble imagining date ideas, try recreating a date you had with your partner early on in your courtship. Do exactly the same thing(s), or put a spin on the date by reinventing it in a significant way.
- Do something new and exciting. Doing something that gets your blood flowing and your heart rate up enhances feelings of togetherness between partners. If you’re feeling brave, go on dates that makes you feel like a kid all over again: going to a comedy club, taking a cooking class, or test-driving a new car, to name only a few.
2. Practice forgiveness. Forgiveness is a decision of letting go of the past and focusing on the present. It’s about taking control of your current situation, as you must offer it to your partner as much as you demand it from them.
- Remember who forgiveness really benefits. Forgiving your partner absolves him or her, but it also frees you from carrying around anger and resentment. Don’t view it as an entirely altruistic act — it’s something you’re doing for both of you.
3. Laugh together. Laugh at one another with the security of love. Laughter helps the world go ’round, and it may with your relationship, too. Laughter helps your body burn calories, increase blood flow, strengthen the immune system, and lowers blood sugar levels. Laughter can be comforting, infectious, or an aphrodisiac, and many things in between. Don’t forget to laugh.
4. Support each other. Being supportive means making your partner’s happiness and well-being a priority, in ways big and small. Keep in mind that part of why you’re together in the first place is that you’re each other’s biggest fans, so make sure you act like it. Try demonstrating your support in these ways:
- Be a good listener. If your partner needs you to lend an ear, do it willingly. You don’t always need to come up with a solution, just support.
- Offer encouragement. If your partner is trying to make a positive change, start a new hobby, or undertake a difficult challenge, be his or her biggest cheerleader.
- Provide a safe place. Allow your partner to be vulnerable in front of you without fear of judgment.
5. Devote time to each other. Make spending time with your partner a priority, even if it’s a little inconvenient at first. Relationships need shared experiences to grow, and you’re demonstrating that nurturing yours is important to you.
- Take up a hobby. Learning something new together can help you grow closer, as well as discovering a leisure activity you both enjoy. Try sports like tennis or basketball, learning a new language, cooking, crafting, or whatever else you’ve been wanting to try.
- Find small ways to serve each other. Doing small acts of service for your partner shows that you’re aware of what he or she needs, and you’re willing to help out. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant gesture: make dinner, take care of a small errand, or offer a foot rub at the end of the day. Don’t make it a big deal, and don’t automatically expect payback.
6. Develop better communication. Most people aren’t born great communicators — it’s something nearly everyone has to work at. The way you talk to your partner might seem small, but you do it several times a day and it does have an effect. Consider these fixes:
- Don’t use directive language. Try to keep phrases like “you should” or “you can’t” out of your relationship. You and your partner are equals, and neither one of you should have the authority to direct the other.
- Relay your expectations. If you expect your partner to do something, say it. Don’t expect that he or she should read your mind, and don’t rely on hints. Being clear about what you want gives your partner a fair shot at succeeding. (And keep the above point in mind: instead of “You should take the garbage out every day,” say “I’d really like it if you took the garbage out every day.”)
- Say “please” and “thank you.” You should be able to let loose around your partner, so there’s no need to worry about having impeccable manners all the time. The exception to this is asking nicely and expressing gratitude when your partner does something — don’t just assume he or she knows how you meant it.
- Fight fair. Don’t just let all these good communication skills go out the window during an argument. Try to get your point across in a loving, respectful way that doesn’t seek to hurt your partner. If he or she insists on yelling or throwing insults, quietly request a calmer attitude.